We are planning on potentially building a budget outdoor kitchen in our pool area. As part of that process we'd like to add a nice-looking built-in grill. However, upon starting to price-shop online I'm finding that built-ins seem to come with a pricetag approximately 5x - 10x that of a similarly-featured free-standing grills from a big box store. I now find myself wondering if it makes more sense to build an alcove for a freestanding grill (our $200 freestanding grill is finally giving out on us after 12 years).

Is there an actual functional or reliability difference to these extremely expensive grills that will make up for the cost difference (other than the built-in appearance)? Or is this much like wedding cakes or wedding photography, where the word "wedding" (or "built-in") quintuples the price for an otherwise similar product? My experience has been that such large price premiums are usually justified by something, but without knowing what that 'something' is it's difficult to determine if it's worth the cost for us.

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    The functional difference is how much money you will have left over afterwards for the food to cook on it. – fixer1234 Apr 19 '18 at 0:48
  • I bought an inexpensive Nexgrill and didn’t use the lower cabinet, now it’s a built-in. – Tyson Apr 19 '18 at 1:04

There MAY be some real differences. Using the microwave oven as an example, which I actually have some experience with. A typical countertop (i.e., not built-in) microwave oven is typically designed NOT to be fixed in pretty much any way. If a switch, fuse, motor, etc. fails then generally it is both hard to fix, if it is at all possible to safely do so. A built-in microwave oven is designed like a conventional oven - serviceable, wiring diagram usually included, parts available from traditional supply houses or online. Fire (don't ask...) in a built-in microwave oven - find the thermal fuses and replace them. Fire in a countertop microwave oven - throw it away and get another one. Bad heating element in a conventional built-in oven - replace the element. Bad heating element in a countertop toaster oven - replace the appliance. There are also sometimes other differences as well.

I can't say for sure what the differences are with BBQ grills. I suspect there are some differences in terms of serviceability, quality of construction, durability, etc. Whether they are worth 5x the price is another story. Part of the difference in price is of course due to mass production - if you can produce 100,000 grills instead of 10,000, you can definitely amortize the design, tooling and other production costs and get the grills out the door for a lot less.

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Less demand = higher price. As free-standing is the lion in home-BBQ it's price is lower due to bigger market competition.
If I had to decide I'll go for a free-standing: it's cheaper, easier to clean (I use the high pressure washer used for my car) and I can bring it with me when I have pic-nics.

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People who want it built-in are willing to pay more. Look at the price of a stand-alone microwave -vs- a built-in one. Or a hotplate to a jenn-air. Or a blowup pool to an in-ground. You get the idea...

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